In 2017, fed up with dishing out my loose change to the homeless living on the streets of my home town in Newport, Wales, I decided I must do something about it. The Labour party consistently highlight the plight of the homeless and poor, so I thought hell to it, this year I am going to get off my backside and help them win the general election.
I contacted my local labour MP and volunteered my canvassing services. I went down to my local Labour party HQ, picked up a bundle of leaflets, and for the next three days diligently walked around my neighborhood posting them. A few days later I was contacted again by the Labour party, they asked if I would go door knocking with my local MP. I accepted despite the pouring rain I twice went out to drum up support for Labour.
Election night was a great success my local MP had increased her majority, even though Labour had not won the general election, I felt proud to have done my bit to help the homeless.
I work in construction, and need a construction skills certification scheme card ( CSCS) to access my place of work. The card is really just a health & safety certificate to prove that the holder is aware of the risks on a construction site. The The Corporate manslaughter and Corporate homicide act 2007 brought in by the then Labour government had made construction employers nervous about their liabilities, so CSCS helped to mitigate some of those liabilities.
A few weeks after the general election I found out that CSCS had now put NVQ 2 requirements on CSCS cards. Although not formally qualified, I have been a site carpenter for over three and a half decades. This new requirement of CSCS meant that I would have to pay out £1,500 for an NVQ 2, or give up working. I was not on my own in this respect, over 175,000 of my fellow construction workers were in the same predicament.
Realising there was no funding available for training for NVQs, I contacted my MP for help, she wrote to the government on my behalf. The reply from government was predictable , it basically read ” Tough Shit” !
I later found out that the Welsh Labour Government had been instigating a policy in Wales of promoting CSCS via public procurement. I wrote to my local Assembly Minister asking for help, again the reply was much the same as the one from central government ” Tough Shit”.
It seemed incredible to me that the Welsh labour party would promote an occupational licence like CSCS, and not ensure that funding for training was available to workers.
Over 5000 Welsh construction workers are affected by these new requirements and no funding is available for most.
I have since found out that Unions who financially back Labour, sit on the board of CSCS. Worker Certification is good news for the Unions, as it puts a cost burden on the self employed and agency workers. It is no secret that the Unions don’t like self employed workers as they see them as a threat to their Rent Seeking nature.
I think my local Assembly minister sums up very well the hypocrisy of the Welsh Labour Government. He recently spoke on a debate about homelessness in Wales, even though he is well aware that occupational licensing like CSCS stops poor people accessing the work place and he is fully aware of the NVQ funding problem, he makes absolutely no mention of it at all!
This is him speaking in the debate on homelessness in Wales.
Given that there is currently a skills crisis in the UK construction industry, you would think that the Welsh Labour government would be dishing out grants for construction NVQs, creating a demand for Welsh construction workers and bring much needed income to Wales. At the very least, you would think they would put pressure on the construction industry training board (CITB) to spend in Wales the millions of pounds that they have raised in levies on the backs of self employed Welsh construction workers.
In 2016 the CITB were paid £11,878,420.50 in levies by umbrella payroll companies used by construction employment agencies. Only £667,594.03 was claimed back from CITB for worker training and only £166,296 of this was for workers NVQ training.
A recent report written by Professor Len Shackleton of the Institute of Economic Affairs, reveals that the proportion of employees needing occupational licenses in the UK has doubled in the past fifteen years.
The next time you you see a homeless person in Wales, remember they might be there because the Welsh labour government promoted worker certification. So don’t give them your loose change, give them £1,500 so that they can get an NVQ 2 and access the work place.
One thing I can guarantee, is that come the next elections, I won’t be standing on your doorstep pleading with you to vote Labour!